Boys’ Varsity Tennis Denied Chance to Compete at New England’s
12-1 Record not Good Enough
by The Milton Measure on Friday, May 27th, 2011
The tennis team has enjoyed immense success this year. The team has fought its way to a 12-1 record, only losing a close match to Roxbury Latin, the number 1 team in the ISL. Entering the week of May 16th, spirits were high, and the team was ready to take their talents to the New England’s Class A tournament.
Yet, on Thursday, May 19th, the team was thrown into distress after Coach Michael Duseau forwarded an email to the Varsity Tennis conference, informing the team that they would not able to compete at the annual New England tournament. The decision committee had disregarded Milton’s qualified past and strong 2011 record because the team failed to play any Class A matches.
To truly understand the situation, one should note the long history of excellence tied to Milton Academy’s tennis team. Since 2000, the boys have won six ISL championships and six New England Class A championships, including five in a row from 2003-2007. During this time period, the team has failed to advance past the Quarterfinals of the tournament only once, and has finished second in the ISL three times. Based on this information, one can see why the tennis would be devastated by the committee’s decision.
The New England tournament is divided into several classes. According to tournament rules, the requirement for eligibility for the Class A New England tournament is “results against six ‘A’ schools as a bare minimum”. Regarding Milton’s ability to schedule a tournament-adequate amount of Class A matches, Coach Duseau stated “With a full 15 match I.S.L. league schedule it would be virtually impossible for us to schedule at least five more matches against “A” teams. The only other ‘A’ team in our league is Groton and that match has always been scheduled for the week after New Englands.
The tennis team is normally scheduled to play three Class A teams: Exeter, Andover, and Groton, the only three schools whose proximity to Milton allows them to be viable opponents.
This season, Milton was scheduled to play Phillips Exeter on May 11th but the weather did not permit the match to occur, and the match was ultimately canceled due to Exeter’s inability to travel on weekdays besides Wednesdays. Additionally, the tennis team decided to cancel its match against Andover because of a touchy relationship spurred on by repeated disrespect from the Andover coach. Milton played Groton on May 25th, four days after the New England tournament, leaving the Milton tennis team with no Class A matches on its record.
According to the email sent by Ned Gallagher, one of the New England Class A tournament coordinators, “a team’s eligibility for a tournament berth (as well as seeding) will be based on the established record of duel match competition against other schools in the same class”. Since Milton failed to participate in any class A matches, the tournament coordinators ruled that they had no legitimate basis of evaluation for the tennis team and would not be able to invite the team to compete, despite its 12-1 ISL record versus predominately Class B teams. In recent history, the Class B New England tournament winner has been in fact much stronger team than the Class A tournament winner.
Historically, even though Milton only plays only one or two class A matches before the New England tournament, the team has still been invited to play, rendering the rejection even more shocking for the boys. The combination of Milton’s traditional lack of adherence to the stated rules and Milton’s seemingly guaranteed spot in the New England tournament in the past designate the recently occurred snub as controversial.
Despite repeated instances of communication between the Milton Varsity Team and the tournament coordinators, no clear conclusion has been made regarding the issue.
The technicality hit the tennis team especially hard due to the imminent graduation of seniors Noah Bragg, Tyler Edwards, and Andrew Strang, arguably the backbone of the team. The returning players, Captain Matthew Lebovitz, Bartholomew Panarese, Henry Arndt, Alexander Lauretti, and Chris Mcdonough, will return next year for an ambiguous future.
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